Health and Human Services – Promoting Human Well-Being
As the country’s population ages, healthcare professionals focus on promoting healthy aging and the importance of public health. They encourage patients to adopt best practices that will increase their “health span” – the years they maintain good mental and physical health. The role of public health professionals is to promote evidence-based policies and practices that help people achieve that goal.
Public health experts also seek to improve health outcomes for people of all ages in at-risk communities. These include economically disadvantaged neighborhoods where residents experience limited access to quality healthcare.
The global pandemic underscores the importance of focusing on both areas. The two populations most vulnerable to the worst outcomes from COVID-19 were seniors and those with chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. Individuals who followed good public health policy and maintained good physical condition generally fared better when infected with the virus.
Health science students who concentrate on a public health career prepare themselves for leading roles in this critical area. Their work ensures that public health policies benefit society as a whole by striving to secure health and well-being for everyone.
The Importance of Public Health Policy
At its core, public health policy seeks to address issues impacting people’s health in every demographic group. Public health experts develop plans that use evidence-based interventions and policies to manage the economic, physical, and social environments where people live, learn, work, and play.
Public health aims to eliminate health disparities, achieve health equity, help people attain health literacy, and strengthen physical, social, and economic environments.
The pandemic brought these health outcome disparities to light. Dr. Paul Reed, a rear admiral and director of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, wrote that “across the board” healthcare workers saw poorer outcomes from the virus for those with chronic and often preventable conditions.
“A lack of adequate physical activity, poor diet, and inequities in the social determinants of health that influence one’s opportunity to make healthy choices contribute significantly to the development of these conditions,” he wrote.
Addressing these issues is a fundamental reason why public health work is relevant today.
The Elements of Public Health
A recent report published by a federal government-sponsored committee of physicians and public health experts provided benchmarks for tracking progress toward the goal of all US residents achieving full potential for health and well-being. The “Healthy People 2030” report, published in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, looks into the future focus of public health in the coming decade.
The report identifies three elements of health and well-being. They apply to people of every age, including seniors who want to enjoy healthy aging.
- Think. The ability to evaluate and solve daily life problems, as well as feeling optimism, gratitude, self-worth, and believing life and social circumstances are under personal control to some degree.
- Feel. Having a feeling of security and satisfaction with life. This includes having vigor and vitality, flourishing psychologically, and having the ability to balance negative and positive emotions and maintain fulfilling social connections.
- Function. The ability to meet personal and collective needs (such as those for family or the neighborhood) under changing societal conditions. This involves feeling accepted into a community, providing and receiving support from others, and “acting as a legitimate contributor to a common world.”
The Healthy People 2030 report also calls for addressing well-being in several areas beyond physical and mental health. These areas include economic security, employment opportunities, school readiness, environmental quality, affordable and safe housing, community safety, and transportation.
Technology Trends in Public Health
Even as public health experts seek to widen the scope of their field, technological advances have also led to changes. One of the biggest trends is remote healthcare, or “telemedicine,” which involves people talking via video chat or phone with clinicians on specific issues, including routine checkups or discussing blood panel results.
Remote healthcare took off during the pandemic and is expected to continue as a part of healthcare going forward, especially for seniors who may have difficulty getting to a doctor’s office.
According to Forbes, public health has also started incorporating virtual reality to train doctors and surgeons. It’s also helpful in developing social and coping skills for children with autism. Healthcare operations also increasingly use AI and machine learning to analyze data and use “digital twins” technology to create models that use real-world data to simulate any system or process.
Touro University Worldwide MS in Health Sciences
Touro University Worldwide prepares graduates for leadership in public health with its online MS in Health Sciences with a concentration in public health. Students in the 100% online program learn the knowledge and skills needed to assess, plan and implement public health programs in various settings. They include communities, schools, work sites, and medical care facilities. The program does not require residency and takes one year to complete.
For those who aspire to a career in public health, the 36-credit program offers a pathway to achieving their professional goals. Graduates understand the importance of public health and are ready to improve society by teaching people best practices in preventative healthcare and living a healthy lifestyle. Their guidance and work help improve the chances of healthy aging for everyone.